Courts must get serious on police assaults

FOR too long, newspapers have borne witness to the very real dangers of policing.

When your job description is to be the “thin blue line” between law and order, it naturally follows your workplace will have inherent dangers.

Officers know that every time they strap on their holster, every time they pull over a car or knock on a door, they could potentially be staring down the barrel of a gun or a flying fist.

As such, it is incumbent on the courts to send a thunderous message to would-be offenders and protect the officers that protect us.

The assault of a police officer in the execution of his or her duty is an assault on the rule of law and warrants the sternest possible punishment under that law. 

If the community respects the grave risks officers take, the law should too.

In NSW, a charge of assaulting a police officer on the job carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

And yet rarely do we see meaningful penalties, and meaningful deterrents, handed down in matters of police assault.

In recent months, a conga line of cop bashers has been paraded through the local courts.

Indeed, a number of Riverina police remain on sick leave due to injuries – both physical and mental – sustained while at work.

A staggering 21 officers – both police and corrections staff – have been assaulted in the region in the past quarter.

Among the perpetrators is an 18-year-old Junee man who, during an alleged drug-fuelled frenzy, assaulted a policewoman so badly she suffered a broken jaw and nose, and had three teeth knocked out.

The latest assault, near Loftus Street in Temora on Sunday night, saw an officer punched in the face by a man police believe was also drug-affected.

The previous weekend, a policewoman suffered facial bruising after she was punched by a teenage drug user when she intervened at a rowdy Tolland house party.

Emerging drugs like ice and flakka are making crooks even more unpredictable and prone to bouts of indiscriminate violence.

Users can also be impervious to the effects of capsicum spray and in rare cases, tasers.

If a taser won’t jolt sense into a would-be police assailant, a magistrate is duty-bound to.